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Shatter Like a Pearl is the fifth episode of The Terror: Infamy, the second season of AMC's The Terror.[3]


The Japanese Americans are forced to undertake a humiliating exercise that divides the community. Chester comes face to face with a man who forces Chester to question his very nature. Luz, stricken by grief after tragedy, is forced to make an important choice.[3]


In Guadalcanal, Chester Nakayama snaps a photo of a woman and her children playing across a stream. It is February 4, 1943. One of his fellow soldiers and his fellow translator Arthur try to get his attention, but he is distracted by a letter. It is from his mother, Asako, telling him that she and his father are sorry to tell him that his children by Luz Ojeda, Enrique and Hikaru, did not survive their delivery. The soldier, Bob tells him of how his "girl" left him, but Chester says that it's not the same. The soldier's girlfriend went home to Pocatello, while his infant sons are buried in a prison camp. Arthur tells him that Bob would take a bullet for him, and Chester says that he wishes he would, that it would shut him up. He pushes his way through and past him. Bob comments to Arthur that Chester has cracked and he's hoping the new batch of translators gets there soon.

At the Military Embarkation Center in Long Beach, California, a couple of said translators sit having a discussion. One comments that his cousin told him that before you ship out, you should look to the one on your left and the one on your right, that one of them's coming home in a body bag. The other comments that if both make it, then it'll be him. He then cracks a smile and tells him that what he heard was only about front-line grunts, that they haven't lost a single translator. He even heard that a translator in Guadlcanal took a flamethrower to the face and "came out fresh as a daisy." The worried soldier is not reassured, asking if this means that they're due. The other soldiers says in response that if so, his money is on Terajima because he's been looking spooked all day. The worried soldier asks Terajima what he thinks - if he's going to "take one for Uncle Sam," that they'll name a pagoda after him. In response, Terajima just grunts. A horn sounds and the confident soldier tells the worried one "Let's win us some scalps." As they start marching off, Terajima's joints crack strangely. He is carrying a bag, which appears to be bloodied at the bottom and has a strange look in his eyes.

At the Colinas de Oro, the interned Japanese Americans are being presented with a paper. It is headed "Statement of United States Citizen of Japanese Ancestry." Handed one, Yamato-san asks what it is, and the man tells him he just needs to fill it out to prove he's a loyal American. He asks disbelievingly that they would have to prove that, and the man replies to just fill it out. Ken Uehara discusses it at a table, saying that they put this in writing and they'll just it against them. Walt says that it's the first time anyone's mentioned anything about letting them out, that they could get to enlist. Ken doesn't like the idea that his best case would be that they get to get out only to get their head blown off for the glory of Franklin Delano Roosevelt. Another notes that their choices seem to be to be sent to Japan, be sent to jail, or be sent to die, that it's clearly a trap. Nevertheless, Walt sets to the paper.

Yamato-san pays a visit to Amy Yoshida, who is busy working at her secretarial job under Major Bowen. He tells her that he must speak with Major Bowen, to make a confession. He once donated tinfoil for a collection to the Japanese Navy, just to get a solicitor to go away. He doesn't have room to properly explain it on the form. Amy whispers to him a warning to say nothing. He leaves and Major Bowen approaches her, telling her that he has release docs from yesterday's overnighter for the stockade. He says he doesn't know why "Japs" like sleeping there so much and she replies that some people feel the need to protest. He calls it ingratitude and criticizes the reaction to the questionnaire, saying that the WRA is all over him to get a 100% response rate, and everybody's complaining. Amy tells him that nobody wants to answer wrong. He counters that it's thirty questions, half "yes" or "no" and should take five minutes. He says he thought they were supposed to be obedient, that she is, but the rest of them - "Holy Moses." He says there needs to be stern consequences for non-compliance.

At Guadalcanal, Arthur is surprised that Chester has gotten through something called the Aoki diary. Chester says it confirms that Admiral Takahashi did experiments on Sergeant Crittenden, psychological ones. However, it doesn't outline the method, or if there were any others that he experimented on. Arthur reads from it "We have no goals, save that our bodies might shatter into glorious shards of pearl." He says that he translates tama as "jade," but he likes "pearl" better. Chester says that the guy who wrote it was a poet, before they ground him into hamburger. Arthur replies that they at least now know what broke Crittenden, and it wasn't a yurei. Chester says he was sure that it was there, but instead it was back at the camp the whole time. It wanted him to come there, so that it could get to his girlfriend, Luz. Arthur replies that he used to mop the infirmary at the Manzanar internment camp and it doesn't take an evil spirit for something to go bad at the camps, that there never was a yurei. Chester wonders if there isn't one, what he came there for, if it might be for nothing. "Nothing?" Arthur wonders, noting that they have a live P.O.W. from Takahashi's unit. Chester shoots back that neither of them is allowed in the room, that the Harvard interrogator is afraid they'll spot his "shitty Japanese." He says that they're useless to both their countries and their families, asking him just what they are. Arthur says that that's a little philosophical for his speed.

Arthur picks up a baseball, asking Chester if he plays, or at least used to. Chester agrees that he used to, he was second base in the Nisei League. Arthur, tossing him the ball, says that that's something - that he's a ball player. A soldier, Private Burlingham, enters their tent, saying that Colonel Stallings needs the both of them, that he thinks it's serious. They walk with Stallings, who tells them that Major Tebry Van Allen is their best interrogator, but that he's hit a snag with the P.O.W. He says that he has a new interrogator en route from Brisbane and that their job is to babysit the prisoner until he gets there. Chester replies that the Ivy League guys can't imagine what it's like to think like someone who's Japanese and they won't get anywhere. Stallings asks him if he has a better idea and Arthur tells him that he thinks Chester is asking for his permission for them to speak with the prisoner. He denies it, saying their not interrogators. Chester tells him that he chose them for a reason, that they should show him what they can do. As they approach the tent, they see Van Allen being led out on a stretcher.

In the tent, the prisoner is tied to a pole, snarling in rage and with a bloody mouth. He growls and grunts ferally, then spits something at them. It's Van Allen's ear. He asks in Japanese if they want information, if they can hear without an ear. He laughs maniacally, asking what they're doing there. Stallings asks him what he called him, and Chester replies "A shiryō." It's an ancient word, along the lines of "dead man, walking amongst the living." Stallings tells him to keep watch on him, and to not engage regardless of what he calls him, that they have professionals for that. The prisoner shouts that he will kill them both.

At the Colinas de Oro, Ken is with Amy. He says that for a few minutes, it felt like they weren't in prison. She tells him that she's kind of sweet on him, too, "Inmate 30893-C." She asks he thinks the MPs know which barracks are empty, and he says they'd be doing the same as them if they could find a girl. She asks what would happen if they used the questionnaire to draft him, and he replies that he won't let a stupid paper keep them apart. They kiss.

Some children play a game of hide-and-seek in the woods. They see a woman standing in the water. One of them says that she is the ghost woman. They gasp in fright as she turns around and leaves. It's not the ghost-woman, though, it's Luz Ojeda, looking a bit haunted herself. She contemplates the water, seeing within it the images of her two stillborn children. The images fade, leaving only the water. She gasps and reaches into the water. She arrives back at the camp, looking as if she has the weight of the world on her shoulders. She is greeted by Asako and Henry, who wrap her in a robe.

Back at Guadlcanal, Chester picks up a medal. The P.O.W. tells him to not touch his things. He drops it, and examines a notebook. The P.O.W. shouts at him again to put it down. Chester meets with Stallings, telling him that the prisoner wants to engage. Stallings replies that biting a man's ear off is a kind of engagement. Chester says that this is their chance, asking if he noticed how the prisoner was looking at him. He says that he wasn't, that he was staring at him. To the prisoner, a white man is just the enemy, but he's something different, a traitor and because of that, he can get him off-balance and perhaps even get inside his head. Stallings asks him if he's sure he's got his own mental state in order, and he tells him that he absolutely does.

At the camp, Ken is trying to rouse the others, telling them to not answer the questionnaires. One protests that Bowen will cut their rations. He says that he's hungry too, that they want them to be scared. He says that it's their constitutional right to not answer, that under Amendment Five it's illegal to even ask. Walt comments that Ken is only happy when he's rocking the boat, and Ken tells him that if he doesn't, he's as bad as the ketoh locking them up. A soldier tells him to get down, that failure to complete the form will be construed as treason, subject to indefinite imprisonment. Amy asks Bowen about this, and he tells her that they're not playing games, and to make sure that her boyfriend knows that. Just because a barrack is empty doesn't mean that he doesn't know what's going on in it.

At Guadalcanal, Chester has engaged with the P.O.W. He says that according to his documents, his name is Tetsuya Ota, carrying the rank of First Lieutenant. "The dog speaks," replies Tetsuya, asking him if he got permission from his master. Chester shows him an object they found in the wreckage of his plane, a suicidal knife, yet he didn't take his own life. He asks why. Tetsuya replies that he isn't fit to ask him questions. Chester quotes "To fight the enemy and to shatter like a pearl," saying that he doesn't believe in that, that he has doubts. He asks him how he survived the plane crash, and he says that he might already be dead, "Chester." He says he knows all about him already. Chester asks "How do you know me, Ota?" He says that there is no Ota, that Ota is dead. Arthur tells him that he's playing him. Ota continues that his onnen has wandered the earth, hungry for blood. Chester grabs the notebook, asking him what the names in it mean and why three are crossed out. He replies that a spirit sits before him and yet he concerns himself with names in a journal. Chester asks if they're code-names of soldiers he's controlled. Ota replies that he has nothing, that he thought he could get away, but he'll present to him the corpses of everyone he loves, no matter how young. Chester shouts at him, asking why he said that, and the man laughs. Chester says that it's him, that he's the yurei. Ota bares his teeth at him.

At Colinas De Oro, Ken and Amy walk together. He asks her she's even looked at questions 27 and 28 on the survey, the first being "Are you willing to serve in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?" He figures they'll draft anyone that answers yes and imprison anyone who answers no. The other is "Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States of America and to faithfully defend the United States from any and/or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance to the Japanese emperor?" Amy tells him that it's just stupid answers, on a paper, and that he just needs to write yes. He says that he was born in the U.S., that he couldn't forgive himself for answering yes. She tells him that if he does, they'll take him away, from her. She begs him to just say yes.

At Guadalcanal, Chester asks Ota, who he now believes to be the yurei, if he just arrived there, if he was in America before. Ota says he's there to save him. He tells him to take his dagger and cut him free, and like an honorable samurai, they'll slice their bellies open together. If he fails to free him, he spare neither him nor his family. "The ground will soak with their blood." Chester approaches the table. He grabs his camera and flashes it, taking a photo of his face. Ota demands that he give it to him, asking him what he's doing. Chester leaves.

Amy types furiously at her typewriter, as a group of Japanese Americans pile up a number of questionnaires where the respondents have answered no to either question 27, 28, or both. Ken tells her that she doesn't want a man who would say yes to those questions and walks away. Luz is back at the pond, sitting and appearing to rock an imaginary baby back and forth in her arms. She hums lightly. She hears footsteps approaching. It's a soldier, who tells her that someone has come to see her. She meets the man, who says "If your mother could see you..." It's her father, Bart. "My little girl," he says in Spanish. She just sits, listless. Bart tells her that a man came to the house, a sergeant in uniform, who had news from North Africa. He tells her that Dennis was doing transport in a convoy, that there was a battle and it didn't go their way. Her brother is dead. He tells her that she shouldn't be there, where her babies... that it's time she came home.

At Guadalcanal, Chester tells Ota that he knows what a yurei looks like, that its face blurs in the photos. He holds up the photograph of Ota that he took - perfectly developed, no blurring. He tells him that he's too much a coward to kill himself and so he wasted his time with nonsense about being a yurei. He asks him what the plan is, if he's trying to goad him into killing him, to save him from his own shame, and what would Admiral Takahashi think of that? Ota spits at him, telling him that he will be released when the war is over. He will cross the ocean and find him and his family and kill them all. Chester tells him to go ahead, to tell him more about his sons. Ota replies that they're dogs, like their father, that he'll piss on their graves. Chester strikes him, saying to tell him more, more about his sons, who are already dead. Ota tells him that they're lucky to have been spared this world.

Bart and Luz sit with a soldier, who asks Luz what percentage Japanese she would say her husband is. Bart tells the soldier that the man is not her husband, but he's 100% Japanese. He asks if she prepares Japanese food for dinner, and Bart says that she eats what they prepare for her, obviously. He asks if she has any Japanese children and Bart begs her to stop. He says that it'll take three to five days to process the request for her to leave and that he can go. "Enrique and Hikaru" says Luz, explaining that she and Chester had two children, that she named them Enrique and Hikaru. She gets up to leave.

Chester asks Ota if he has children, and he replies that he doesn't and it seems he never will. Chester says that the mother of his children sacrificed everything for him and he wasn't there when they died, that she was alone and he's there. The wind gusts, rustling the items in the tent. Ota says that he believes in the old spirits, and he does too, that he feels them. It's why he looks forward to the next life. He says that he's unafraid of death, a proud warrior for Japan. He asks what Chester is. Chester echoes Arthur, saying that that's a little philosophical for his speed.

Amy finishes up a bit of typing and sneaks over to the desk where the questionnaires sit. Looking around, she finds Ken's, erases his answers for 27 and 28, and changes them to "yes." She replaces the paper. Major Bowen comes in as she's leaving the room.

Back at Guadalcanal, Chester shows Ota one of the objects on the table, which he says is a stitching from a baseball. He's realized that there are nine names in the notebook - a baseball lineup, the most American thing of all. "My college team," admits Ota. Chester tells him that he could maybe play again when the war is over. Ota tells him that three names crossed out are already dead, and his name is next. He asks him to help him by giving him an honorable death. In response, Chester pulls out the baseball from earlier, saying that he played too, that he even once saw Lou Gehrig. He asks Ota if he's heard of him. Ota replies that he once struck him out. Chester is disbelieving, but Ota replies that Gehrig once came to Japan in 1934 with an American all-star team. His team played them in the Meiji Jingu Stadium in Tokyo. He pitched him - three swings, three misses. He tells him to check the newspapers. Chester asks him to tell him about a particular man in the notebook, Masuji, what position he played. It's one of the names that's crossed out and he just wants to know about him as a ballplayer. Ota gives the full name as Junichiro Masuji, an incredible third baseman with an aim like a cannon. He could have been a great pitcher, if not for his batting skills, and his ability to run and field even better than him.

Outside, Jeeps arrive with the new batch of translators from the United States. Arthur says that he's glad to have them relieving them. Terajima stands strangely at the edge of one of the Jeeps. The confident translator from before asks him if he's coming with them. He does not follow, his joints cracking strangely. He unzips a bag, which contains a bloodied human corpse within. He examines it and zips the bag back up.

At the Colinas de Oro War Relocation Center, a government agent, George Nicol, declares that they're taking away anyone who answered "no" to questions 27 and 28. He says that there are twice as many guards in the high-security camps and they'll be well-taken care of. Ken tells him that history will remember this day and his children will be ashamed of what he's done. A soldier tells him that he's all talk, but full of it. He replies that he answered "no" to both questions, like the others. The soldier says he's sure he did, and walks away. George says that Uehra answered yes to both and that's everyone. He leaves. Uehara states that he's sure he answered "no." He is now back with Amy in the barracks, who tells him that at least he's still there. She begs him to listen, but he walks away.

At Guadalcanal, Arthur asks Chester if he's gotten anything out of Ota. He tells him that he hasn't. Arthur tells him that the new translators are there. They're moving out, and the new interrogator is ready and waiting for the prisoner at a P.O.W. camp in Guam, that maybe he'll get something about Takahashi. Arthur leaves and Chester tells Ota that they're sending him to a P.O.W. camp, where he'll be interrogated by a white man. He asks if he wishes he was killed when his plane crashed and he says that he is a shame upon his family and that no peace will find him in this world or the next. Chester picks up the knife. He asks him if he knows the thing he likes best about baseball. He sets the knife before him and unties him from the pole, saying that there's no time limit and no clock. It's not until you've been given one last chance that the game is over. He says he would have loved to have taken a swing at Ota's fastball. Ota gets up and grabs the knife. He pulls it out and aims it at Chester. He then says that he would have struck him out, just like Lou Gehrig. He steels himself and jabs the dagger in his chest. He slices all the way across his belly, and bleeds out. He collapses on the ground. He tells Chester that Admiral Takahashi was born on June 7, 1894 in Sendai. He says to tell his superiors that he got that out of him, that it's more than any white man would ever get out of a prisoner. He bleeds out of his mouth and dies.

It is snowing at the Colinas de Oro. Luz is preparing to leave with her father, and Asako promises that they will let Chester know what happened. She says that he'll want to know where to find her. Luz says that she left him a letter. She hands Asako the rattle that Yuko Tanabe gave her, asking her to give it back to her. Asako seems surprised, but nods, agreeing to hold on to it. Luz turns to Henry, who smiles at her. She meets her father at Ford pickup outside the gate. Henry rushes to her and the soldiers look wary and start to raise their guns, but he just gives her a hug. He tells her to please be safe and well. She nods and embraces her father. A soldier closes the gate. Her father ushers her into the truck and they drive away.

At the tent in Guadlcanal, Stallings goes over Chester's account of events - that Ota broke free while his back was turned, got a hold of the dagger and killed himself before it was too late. "Yes," says Chester. Stallings agrees that that's what happened, saying it's not the happiest ending, but he did get something on Takahashi, which is more than Major Van Allen can say, "or hear, for that matter." He tells Chester to get packed and get some rest, that he has bigger plans for him. He leaves and Chester sighs with relief. As he starts to gather his stuff, there is a sound of bones cracking. Arthur Ogawa shuffles up behind him. Chester asks if he's okay. Arthur smacks his face, knocking him to the ground. Next thing, he is being marched by Arthur outside, his face bloodied and a gun to his back. They approach a vehicle and he tells him to drive. Arthur is carrying the bag that was held by Terajima before. Chester asks where to drive to and Arthur replies "back home." Chester starts the engine and they take off. Stallings sees this and depends that the other soldiers stop the Jeep, that they have a runner. He tells them to shoot if they have to. They do, and Chester ends up flipping the Jeep. He is pinned, bloodied and in pain. He has a gash in his leg, and Arthur is badly bloodied. From inside the bag, a single finger emerges and unzips it. A corpse tumbles from the bag, the undead form of Yuko Tanabe. It arises, bones creaking, and stumbles towards Chester, who groans in fear. It touches him, telling him "It's time to go now... Taizo."

Guest starring[]


  • Clayton Chitty as Private Burlingham
  • Taiga Seiya as Sergeant Terajima
  • Kevan Ohtsji as Sergeant Nakamura
  • Yayoi Hirano as Mrs. Yosano
  • Jason Furukawa as Mr. Yosano
  • Jason Riki Kosuge as Tom Yosano
  • Brett Davidson as Mr. Fry
  • Ted Cole as Major Van Allen
  • Sophie Ramos as Louise
  • Rintaro Sawamoto as Mr. Shinjo
  • Nathan Houle as MP Gimbel


  • The Atlanta Journal Constitution named this episode a "best bet" for the week of television viewing from September 8-14.[4]


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